by Caitlin McCrary
The mobile gaming realm is growing—fast. The industry has seen a tremendous increase with consumers having more time on their hands and seeking indoor entertainment. With over 4 billion mobile game downloads in just March globally, a 22% increase, ad spend in this category has more than doubled since the onset of social distancing.
What’s more? Consumers in a gaming environment are engaging with the advertising they receive. In fact, research by TapJoy shows that gamers are more than twice as likely to pay attention to advertisements placed in mobile games than ads placed on the internet, in magazines, or on billboards.
We’re sharing four mobile gaming advertising strategies that have proven successful, and brands that have successfully implemented them to increase user engagement.
Rewarded video is the leading ad format on mobile. Instead of having an ad forced onto them, players choose to watch a video in exchange for a bonus. According to CleverTap, up to 80% of users opt-in to rewarded video ads. Higher video completion rates = higher ad earnings, making rewarded video just as lucrative as in-app purchases. Another benefit of rewarded video? It’s known to increase mobile game user retention rates. Before implementing rewarded video, the 30-day retention rate of one popular app was 5.9%. After introducing rewarded video, the retention rate increased to 6.9%—a 17% boost.
Rewarded video has also proven successful among countless other mobile apps as well, outside of the mobile gaming realm. Spotify presents users with the option to watch a video ad in exchange for thirty minutes of uninterrupted music. This inventory is in high demand and has been used by brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Target. It also provides value to Spotify by giving users a sneak peek of the app’s ‘no ad’ premium subscription.
Playable ads are a new form of display advertising that lets the user interact. And they’re generating much higher user engagement compared to static ads. This type of ad provides users with an enjoyable ad experience, creating a positive connection with the brand.
Moet & Chandon launched a playable love poem game for Valentine’s Day, in which consumers could launch a Moet champagne cork into a glass that would deliver a piece of a love poem. According to TreSensa, the mobile game was tremendously successful—over 1 minute average time spent playing the game, a 38% replay rate, 73% completion rate, and a combined 725 hours spent interacting with the ad.
The Sims Mobile (EA) partnered with international fashion retailer, ASOS, to provide players with a special in-game fashion event known as The ASOS Fashion Show. The event not only provided a catalog of new clothes to the game but also presented players with a challenge—plan a fashion show from the ground up with their Sims. And participation in the challenge gave users a 20% off discount code to use in real-life at ASOS.com.
This tactic is now showing up across the gaming industry and isn’t limited to mobile-based games. Brands are also appearing in Nintendo’s newly released game, Animal Crossing. Fashion brands, Highsnobiety and 100 Thieves, are recreating their clothing collections so people can dress up their avatars, and Twitter and X-box are creating branded apparel for in-game clothing as well. Similarly, Getty is providing users with the opportunity to pick artwork from Getty Museum’s open-access collection and mount it on the walls of in-game homes.
Augmented reality is becoming increasingly popular in the mobile gaming world. Pokemon Go, one of the first AR mobile games to be released, has generated over 1 billion users since it’s launch in 2016. Starbucks partnered with Pokemon Go to drive in-store traffic by having over 7,800 stores become Pokestops or Gyms during the peak of the game’s popularity.
And they didn’t stop there. Starbucks created a custom drink called the Pokemon Go Frappuccino to appeal to game users, further driving store traffic. The brand also launched an in-app game called, Starland, that gave away 2.5 million prizes to users, including the chance to win Starbucks for a year.
The global number of people tapping into games across their phones is set to top out at more than 2.4 billion by December. Mobile gaming is an industry that isn’t going away any time soon. Advertising within the mobile gaming realm provides brands with the opportunity to engage their audiences through interactive and immersive experiences—exactly what consumers are craving, especially right now.